So here we are…Hello!
First blog post. I’ve chosen the topic of this post to be about:
1. Why Holland?
2. My reasons for learning Dutch
3. My expectations
4. My worries
❝If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his own language, that goes to his heart.❞
I’ve had some funny looks when I’ve been asked what language I’m studying. Or even more so when I’m going to The Netherlands on holiday. I can remember my first ever trip to Holland in the Summer of 2009, aside from the obvious nerves about flying alone at 17 (I’ll cover this is a later post!) I was sat next to a business man. He was a short, middle aged rather dumpy man who didn’t speak a word to me all flight until we where stood up to disembark. “Are you here for business or pleasure?” The way he said it felt as though very weighted and pack full of assumptions when the truth of the matter was that I was flying out to see my best friend and to meet his family for the first time.
I met my friend almost by accident and being in the “right place at the right time”. As an AS student at school I was still all young and nerdy. A teacher of mine who I worked with as a Student Ambassador had told me about a boy they had met on holiday who was coming over for a few days to see what an English school was like and I was asked to chaperone him for a few days. Long story short one dull October morning in 2008 in walked this young man. The class went silent as everyone looked on in awe of the 6ft tall tanned foreigner. Long story short over the next six years he became my best friend and introduced me to a world I would never have considered if it hadn’t been for that awkward first meeting!
Reasons for Learning Dutch.
Dutch is the first language I have ever been around that hasn’t made me feel uncomfortable or uneasy. When i first went to Holland, where 87% actually speak English better than some of my British friends, I can remember being totally at ease in my completely uncommon surrounding. Some words where the same and the more of the surroundings I absorbed the looser I could follow some conversations across the dinner table.
I always felt a little bad for not speaking their language but the Dutch have a way of making you feel at ease with using English. In fact many of the want to speak English to a real person to practice for themselves. As years went onthe and I got older it became on of those things that we always say but never do. How many times have you gone to Spain and said “yeah i’m going to learn spanish!” but never even looked into it?! This was me with Dutch.
Recently I have been a little more determined and have started building on the two words my friends Grandma taught me back in 2009; stoel (chair) and tafel (table). We started on simple words like; boy, girl, left, right etc. I got the bug for learning it and my brain would run away a little trying to work out everything that was said. A few things i picked up rather easily. Questions asked to me i would understand but i’ve never been able to answer. I think after 6 years I owe my adopted Dutch family the decency of a conversation in their own mother tongue. For me i think it is the best way to show them how much i love them all and to show them just how much they mean to me (soppy crap over and down with now I promise).
So Dutch was the obvious choice; I will use it, I watch TV shows and movies in Dutch anyway guessing at what is happening, I’ve got friends on hand to help and I’ve also read somewhere that learning a language helps prevent Alzheimer’s which doesn’t sound like a bad thing.
I don’t expect to pick it up and be fluent after two hours of studying. I don’t expect it to be easy but as an adult who has made a conscious decision to learn it i am expecting it to be worth all the hours I am going to have to commit.
My end goal with this is not to learn it to degree level or be some Dutch literary genius I’ll leave that to the professionals but by using different learning styles and techniques I am hoping to be able to know basic conversations with enough interchangeable vocab to get by. That and i just want to really impress my friends.
Of course I worry about the obvious. What if it really is just too hard to do? What if i get all confident to have a conversation with Dutch person for them to laugh or not understand? So what if they do?! I appreciate anyone who tries to communicate with me in a way that I would understand and even if my Dutch makes it very clear that I am indeed English then so be it. I’m not learning this for any other reason but to feel a little less rude when I have to ask for an English menu or have someone else order my food.
So this has been a longish post but its justifies some of my decisions and welcomes you to the inner-most workings of my crazy way of thinking.